Vietnam Climate Defenders Coalition



More than 60 human rights and environmental organizations from around the world, including, Global Witness, EarthRights, International Rivers, Project88, Global Network of Movement Lawyers, and Stand.Earth, today issued a pressing call to Apple’s leadership team and Board of Directors, urging them to take action regarding the systematic persecution and imprisonment of climate leaders in Vietnam. The full letter and list of signatories can be seen here

The letter highlights the concerning trend of Vietnam’s government weaponizing ambiguous laws to detain environmental advocates on baseless charges, impeding progress toward the clean energy solutions Vietnam committed to in December 2022 when they announced an internationally supported $15.5 billion Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP). Vietnam also committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 at COP 26. 

“Since Vietnam is now Apple’s most important production hub outside of China and has committed to human rights and ‘equity and justice in climate solutions,’ we believe you have a responsibility to weigh in,” says the letter. “Indeed, by not making a public statement on this matter, you risk violating your own environmental and human rights policies and delegitimizing Apple’s positive work in these areas.” 

Those who have been targeted include Goldman Environmental Prize winner Ms. Nguy Thi Khanh, who served 16 months behind bars after working to reduce the government’s coal expansion plans; prominent environmental lawyer, Mr. Dang Dinh Bach, who is serving a five-year sentence after dedicating his life to protecting communities from harmful pollution; and Obama Foundation Scholar Ms. Hoang Thi Minh Hong, who is serving three years in prison after founding a group dedicated to clean energy and wildlife conservation solutions. 

Vietnam’s latest arrest of Ms. Ngo Thi To Nhien was based on “appropriation of information or documents,” suggesting efforts to criminalize access to information about Vietnam’s JETP, which goes against the project’s environmental and social safeguard standards. 

The letter’s signatories urge Apple to leverage its influence instead of being a complicit bystander; to advocate for the release of unjustly imprisoned climate leaders; and to ensure a conducive environment for civil society participation in Vietnam’s promise of a just, clean energy transition. 

This call to action comes amidst international scrutiny of Vietnam’s human rights record. The UN has made numerous statements about Vietnam’s “systemic problem with arbitrary detention” of environmental defenders and has publicly called for the release of those unjustly imprisoned. Several governments including the U.S., U.K., E.U., and Germany have issued similar public statements. Mr. Dang Dinh Bach was specifically mentioned in a recent U.S. Senate resolution calling for robust U.S. leadership against human rights abuses that target environmental defenders and urging the international community to stand with individuals fighting climate chaos. Unfortunately, these calls are falling on deaf ears. 

Given the significant investments from the U.K., U.S., and other G7 countries in the JETP, which still lacks a clear road map for implementation or how it will be “just,” this is not just a domestic matter for Vietnam, but rather an issue of global concern. 

“Apple, a company of growing significance to Vietnam’s economy, is in a unique position to bring this issue to the forefront,” says the letter. “Simply stating that you are in support of equitable and just climate solutions and human rights is not enough. Your commitments require action, and now is the time to take it.” 

Apple is expected to release its 2023 Environmental Progress Report any day. Its 2022  Environmental Progress Report states the company’s commitment to equity and justice in climate solutions, transitioning suppliers to renewable energy, and having net-zero carbon impact from all products by 2030. 

“How can Apple accomplish its clean energy goals while increasing manufacturing in a country that is silencing its climate leaders?” asks the letter. “How could Apple not take a public stance, knowing that it could make all the difference?” 

Despite previous communications from the coalition and discussions with Apple staff, there has been no indication of next steps. 

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